The triangle awning has always been very attractive to me. It stands out as modern, but it is more than that. My rules for an awning were a tall order: deployed/broken down in less than 5 minutes, cheap. It turns out the triangle is far more stable than other shapes and with two of them the array of arrangements you can achieve pretty much leave you assured the shade goes exactly where you need it.

Step 1: The Design and Bom

the basic design here is in 3 parts.

1) the fixed attached frame to the roof of the TT (travel trailer). Made out of 1/2" steel conduit pipe, two cross members are permanently attached across the TT, and another pipe assembly, the outrigger, is attached to the cross members such that it can pivot for deployment of the awning.

2) the spars and supports. With the triangles as the main shape of the awning, you string one side of the triangle between the ends of the outrigger. the third angle of the triangle then has to be stretched out away from the outrigger to force the awning into a triangle. The two sides of the triangle sail keep the awning from moving side to side, the spar keeps the shade from falling in, so all that is needed at this point is another pole to hold up the far point of the sail. As a result no guy wires or ropes are needed for deployment (wind is another concern, but for basic usage, no cables or ropes.)

3) the sun sail themselves. I custom ordered them from ebay for $21 each. the triangles were I think 8'x10'x11' but you will need to play with your setup to figure out what you want. I recommend make scale cutouts of the triangles and cutting them out see how it will work out for you. There should be some "triangle calculator" on the we that will make a pdf of some triangles, and you can play with different ones.

OK list of materials:

1) 2 sails from ebay here is the seller I used:


very light, waterproof, I ordered no hardware with them.

2) lots of 1/2"x10' and 3/4"x10' conduit pipe.

Home depot. I lost count, but they are very cheap. like 8 of the 1/2" and 4 of the 3/4" you make telescoping poles (spars) by nesting the 1/2" pipe inside the

3/4" pipe. You also make all the fixed framing from the 1/2" pipe.

3) 3-4 feet of perforated angle iron.

Home depot. I cut them into 6" pieces for mounting points on the TT. 4 at the corners of the roof, one at the center of the where the awning goes (by the roofline) and a few more for tie down points for storage.

4) lots of hose clamps, especially the wing nut kind.

Harbor freight. Hose clamps are a great way to hold two pipes together. for the telescoping spars, I use the kind that have a wing nut on them so you can set the height without any tools. this is way cheaper than the telescoping poles that are available from the camping store. Here are the cheap wing nut kind at harbor freight:


5) #8 nuts and bolts with fender washers

To make the triange frames on the outriggers

6) Gorilla glue, big cord, small cord, deck screws, washers. bungee cords.

Workshop goodie boxes. this stuff is all non-descrip stuff I have in stock in my garage. you will have to either buy it at home depot or will have your own stock. the only must have I recommend is the gorrilla glue. This stuff is amazing. it expands and makes a very hard plastic, waterproof structure out of itself. I will use it for securing all my lines by coating the wires with it for the fixed rigging. For the rope I had left over 4-wire phone cable, and also insulated 22 gauge wire. the bungee cords work out great to keep things taunt and bundled for travel.

Ok, lets get started.

Step 2: The Fixed Frame for the Top of the TT (travel Trailer) Pt 1.

OK, I think I did a pretty good job explaining this in the pictures. look at them and the descriptions in them. NOTE!! do not attach the cross members until the next step. You have to glue the hinge part first. The jig really helped with pilot holes in the pipe, and the regular (not wing nut) hose clamp is on the cross member to really secure that cable so it won't slip. the coating of gorilla glue makes sure the cable knots don't come undone. I used mostly a clove hitch on the pipes and then square knots on the angle iron to tie them down. How do do sailor's knots are left as an exercise for the students. ;) Or look it up on google.

Step 3: The Fixed Frame for the Top of the TT (travel Trailer) Pt 2, the Pivoting Outrigger.

this is the key to making it deploy so fast, I will try and explain it in more detail. the first two pictures are the same picture with the second one marked up to hi-light what is going on. The non-obvious thing is how I attached two pieces of 3/4"x6" steel conduit pipe to the cross members at 90° set back about 6" from the edge of the TT where I want the awning deployed. they are first roped together with the 22 gauge wire using a square lashing (look it up) and then globbing gorrilla glue all over the knot to make a big ball of plastic around it. I then painted the whole thing white (along with the pipe) so it looks nice.

If you look carefully at the diagrams in the intro, you will see that outriggers consist of two 10' 1/2 pipes with triangle frames on the end: one on the fore part of the TT, the other on the aft end. after the cross members with their 3/4" pipe are dry, you attach those cross members to the roof using the angle iron you attached to the side of the trailer in the previous step with the 3/4" pipe on top. thread one half of the outrigger from the front through the 3/4" pipe secton, and the other half from the back so that the two 10' sections of the can be secured side by side to each other.

It is important that these two parts of the outrigger get aligned properly before you lash them together (with more hose clamps) so that both triange frames are aligned. Youl'll need two or three clamps to secure that, When done you notice that the 3/4" pipe acts like a hinge now. with the outrigger frame as the hinge pin. I hope that explanation is sufficient.

Then attach some of the thick cable to the top of the triangle frame (clove hitch with two half hitches) and then back to the other side of the cross member so that the cable is exactly the length so that when you roll the triangle frame out it is a little past 90°. In this way to deploy the outrigger you simply just roll the outrigger out. for storage simply roll it back flat on the roof. the cable will droop but you can buckle that down with a bungee cord to an extra piece of perforated angle iron mounted lower down on the front and aft side of the TT.

Step 4: Making Up the Telescoping Spars

the running rigging for these sails consists sparts made from two 5' sections of pipe: a 1/2" one and a 3/4" one, 22 gauge wire secured to one end of the 1/2" pipe (and for the flying spar one end of the 3/4" pipe,) and I wing-nut hose clamp on the 1/2" pipe so that the spar can be extended and wont collapse. NOTE: the spars are only secured from collapsing NOT for coming apart into two pieces. BE CAREFUL. When you hold the 3/4" pipe upside down and the 1/2" pipe slides out onto your foot. it hurts. A lot.

So I wrapped the end of the pipes several loops with wire and broke out some loops for securing points and secured everything with gorrilla glue (look at the first picture. Actually what I did was make a double loop of wire, and then wound a second piece of wire around the double loop securing it to the end of the pipe.

for deployment you will use two of these spars per triangle sun sail. one goes along the top of the as a roof and then meets the second spar that then extends to the ground. these spars can extend from 5-9' and as such let you angle the sail in may ways.

Step 5: Center Anchor Point.

Ok this step is really important. I tried to test my sun sail without doing this step by resting the flying spar on the gutter, but all I managed to do was have the flying spar fall down on my head. I actually did that a few times before I had the presence of mind to do this step and solve all my problems. The thing here is the perforated angle iron has some 1/4" bolts (whoops that's missing int the bom,) pointed up so I can slip the loop of the 3/4" spar on it.

Step 6: Stowage Considerations, Added Attach Points.

so we have 4 5' spars, I've added a roped down 3/8"x 2" hex bolt that fits into the top (this works nicely to capture the D ring on the sail) but stowing these is a bit cumbersome. On the back of the TT I added some leftover pieces of the angle iron and strung a cable and bungie to hold the cables when not deployed. you will also note I pinched the strap that holds the outrigger in place down too with a bungee cord. There is another piece of perforated angle iron in the front of the tt also so I can pinch down that outrigger cable as well.

This concludes all the contruction, now how do we deploy this?

Step 7: Using the Shade Sails.

Ok one more thing, I also put cable loops on the three corners of all the shade sails. the sails came with D rings, but they wouldn't fit over the 1/2" pipe, so I added the l cable loops so it would be a bigger diameter. I also added some hose clamps to the end of the spars so the loops wont slide down.

Anyway you play with it. but here is how you start:

1) deploy the outrigger to the out position

2) hook a loop of one corner of triangle sun shade on the back triangle frame of the out rigger.

3) with a bungee cord, hook the second corner of the triangle sunshade and pull the bungee and wrap it inthe wedge of the for triangle frame and back to that same second corner, pulling that side of the triangle sun shade taunt.

4) take a flying spar (with the loop on 3/4" pipe, and put it over the 1/4" post in the center anchor point.

5) extend the spar to the unattached corner of the triangle sun shade.

6) catch the loop or D-ring of that corner of the triangle sun shade on the end of the 1/2" pipe.

6) tighten the wing nut in position so the spar wont collapse.

7) take the ground spar (a loop only on the 1/2" pipe) loop that onto the flying spar, and extend that spar to the desired height. then tighten that wing nut hose clamp so it won't collapse.

Repeat for the second shade.

That might sound like a lot, but really it takes a lot less time to do it than to read it.

Step 8: Experiment.

so we are done. there are lots of different configurations. you'll have to experiment, but its pretty easy to set up, and break down. enjoy!!!

Well. As soon as I'm able to collect the materials framing (I live in my van so not much room to store up) I'll try getting this together. Its an amazing idea. Been trying to imagine a shade to cover the entire van as well as side shade for daily comfort. Sometimes its like a tin can it gets so hot. <br> I'm not a crafty person normally, so it will take a lot longer than your ordinary Joe. But I am persistent and imaginative. <br> Any ideas for saving the fiberglass van top. Kinda unsure about the screwing and boring of holes :-) its warm now, but its also Washington State. So...
<p>id be nervous about screwing and boring holes too. if you notice, I did all my screwing and boring on the SIDES of the trailer not the top The top is flat, water pools, and that is a recipe for water leaks. on the sides at least the water won't pool. Use the gorilla glue as a sealant: it expands through the hole and is completely waterproof. </p>
Ive been looking for a quick, easy to use/store idea for my van. They do have awnings for vehicles, but im wanting it adjustable so i can move the shade to cover the van on top as well as the side. At least top and one side anyway. From your pix, it looks like that might be possible? <br> Ive never done anything like this and very unsure if id be able. Can you maybe contact me to assist with a walk thru?
<p>yup, I can configure the sun shade in a host of ways including back over the top to make the whole trailer in the shade. When you get started, post pictures, and ask questions. I'll walk you through it. </p>
Was wondering if PVC pipe is sturdy and strong enough for the framing of the whole awning? Again tho, I've no clue how to get started. But soon as I've gathered materials, I'll be in touch. I do live in my van, so shade is a definite need.<br> Thanks.
<p>I really doubt PVC will work for the stationary spars that attach to the van. there will be significant stress on them and when you tighten the rope to raise the sail, the pvc will bow too much You might get away with pvc poles for the tent poles risers. The conduit pipe isn't any more expensive than pvc. If you don't have a angle grinder, you can cut the pipe with a hack saw, or they also have a special conduit cutter tool </p>
I was looking to buy a few of these screens for my backyard. I went to homedepot and they were way too small and way to expensive. Then I thought I could just make them. the link you provided are are in my price range and they'll save me the headache of making them. thank!
<p>he will make them as big as you want too. they are not made to be umbrella's remember. Water will leak through them, but for shade, for being every lightweight, and rot-proof, they are well made. </p>
<p>This would be good for camping or just hanging out in your back yard.</p>

About This Instructable




More by jleslie48:Bike Rack Attachment for Pickup Truck Above the Cover. $20 (after the Kayak Rack Project.)  Portable rocket stove about $25  Ultimate Car Cup Holder 
Add instructable to: